Costa Rica

Official Language

Spanish

Destination Stats

Population
Surface Area
Temperature
Water
Energy
Air Quality
Flora
Fauna

Welcome to Costa Rica… home to nearly 6% of Earth’s diversity in the heart of Central America and a world leader towards achieving carbon neutrality!
This section provides additional distinctive details about Costa Rica that define its ecological uniqueness.  Just choose any tab for the area you would like to explore.

  • Total Population: 5,179,230 (2022)
  • World Rank: #122
  • Projected: 5,770,000 by 2050 (Peak before decreasing)
    Source: UNDESA-Population
  • Growth Rate: 1.01% per year (2022)
  • 50% Male; 50% Female (2022)
  • Birth Rate: 14.28 per 1,000 people
  • Death Rate: 4.91 per 1,000 people
  • Migration rate: 0.77 people per 1,000 population
  • Indigenous People: 114,000 people; eight (8) tribes – Boruca, Bribri, Cabécar, Guaymí, Quitirrisí, Maleku and Térraba.
  • Ethnicities: White (European) or Mestizo (European & Western) – 84%; Mulatto – 7%;  Native American – 2%; Black – 1%; Other (Unspecified) – 6%.

Note: Over 81% of Costa Ricans live in urban areas.

  • 2.84 global hectares (gha) | 7.02 acres per person. 
  • Costa Rica ranks #90 worldwide based on the size of its global footprint.
  • Iceland’s biocapacity is 1.53 gha | 3.78 acres per person, slightly lower than than the global biocapacity of 1.6 gha | 2.96 acres.

Sources: Global Footprint Network and United Nations Environment Programme.

  • Agriculture – 36.4%
    • Pastures & Grazing: 25.1%
    • Permanent Crops: 6.5%
    • Arable Land: 4.8%
  • Forests – 51%
    • 23.9% of forest area (12.2% of all land) is primary forest, undisturbed by human activity.

Costa Rica holds almost 6% of the world’s biodiversity. 41.4% of its forests is protected by the government.

  • Wetlands & Water Bodies: 0.08%
  • Other (Artificial space/human development):   12.52%

Sources: United Nations FAO and The World Factbook. Figures were tabulated to reflect current data.

  • Primary Food Products
    • National food crop: Coffee. Costa Rica is the world’s 13th largest coffee producer, exporting 90% of the coffee it grows which accounts for 11% of the country’s annual revenue.
    • Other top crops produced: pineapples, sugar cane, bananas, potatoes, tropical fruits, vegetables, rice, corn and palm oil.
  • Top Non-crop Food Commodities: Cow milk, meat (beef, chicken), eggs (hen).
  • Top Non-Food Products: Electronics, plastics, textiles, machinery, and organic chemicals.

Reference: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

  • Average Annual Surface Temperature: 24.2°C | 75.6°F
  • Climate:  Costa Rica is a tropical climate located 1,104.54 km ( 686.33 mi) north of the equator, but its mountain regions experience cold, misty weather.
  • Seasons: Costa Rica’s weather is generally characterized by heat and humidity year-round, separated by two seasons:
    • Dry Season: December – April
    • Wet Season: May – November

Sources: CostaRica.org and Costa Rica Tourism Board.

  • Total Water volume: 113 billion cubic meters (bcm) | ~29.85 trillion gallons.
  • Potable Water Supply per Person: 22,603 m3 (5.97 million gallons).
  • Average Precipitation: 2,926 mm | 115.2 inches.
  • Groundwater accounts for 90% of costa Rica’s  agricultural, industrial, and domestic water demands, excluding use for hydrothermal power.
  • Total Energy Used: 236.5 trillion BTU | 251.83 | 69.3 billion TWh (2022).
  • Global Rank in Energy Consumption: #100
  • Primary fuel sources used: Fossil Fuels (18%), Renewables – water, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar (82%, 64% from hydropower alone).  
  • Essentially all of Costa Rica’s electricity needs comes from renewable energy sources
  • Renewable Energy Sources:  79% – Hydropower; 12% – Wind; 8% Geothermal; 1% – Solar.
    (Source: International Trade Administration)
  • Costa Rica plans for its transportation sector to be totally carbon free by 2050, thus making the country practically powered by 100% renewable sources at that time.
  • Over 500,000 known species of flora and fauna.
  • ~11,840 plants and related species
  • ~400,034 animal species (over 300,000 insect species).
  • Severely Threatened (IUCN 2022)
    • 289 Animals (144 are fishes); 319 plants; five fungi/protists; two mollusks. (Statista)
    •  Animal species in most critical danger: Giant Anteater. Others include – the Central American Jaguar, Tapir, Squirrel Monkey, Manatee, Great Green Macaw, Hawksbill Sea Turtle, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Mangrove Hummingbird, among others.
    • Two species of endemic plants are classified as critically endangered: Aiouea obscura – a small tree, member of the avocado family; and Nectandra Longipetiolata, small tree found in a remnant primary forest outside on Limón. 
  • Leading causes of extinctions or threats: Loss of habitat due to humans development; illegal hunting.
    (Reference: World Atlas)
  • Costa Rica hold nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity.
  • 18% of Costa Rica’s estimated species are still to be classified.

Four of the most captivating Natural Wonders of Costa Rica… among many.

  • Rincón de la Vieja National Park: This national park is where the Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is located, covering ~64,000 acres (25,900 hectares) with craters up to 6,200 feet (1,890 meters) above sea level.  It is one of Costa Rica’s most ecologically diverse areas, sporting fuming volcanoes, rolling waterfalls, natural hot springs and a wide variety of wildlife along impressive hiking trails. It is described as an area of rugged beauty.
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve: Located in the mountains northwest of San José, this unique natural reserve brings the true essence of nature to all who visit It is literally a mountain among the clouds offering majestic interaction with the towering trees, bird calls and abundant flowering vegetation enshrouded by morning mist.  It was founded in 1972 by a coalition of scientists from the local community to protect perhaps the last area of pristine Cloud Forests in Central America.
  • Manuel Antonio National Park:  Located in a true rainforest, Manuel Antonio National Park is absolutely unique with its impressively beautiful landscapes against the background of its white sand Pacific Ocean beaches, lush forest flora and great mountains.  Though it is Costa Rica’s smallest national park covering 6.83 km2  (2.6 mi2), it is one of its most ecologically diverse sporting 461 known species of mammals and birds –  including three of the country four squirrel money species – alongside 350 known plant species.
    (Reference: Manuel Antonio – Costa Rica’s Soul)
  • Arenal Volcano:  The most active of Costa Rica’s seven active volcanoes, Arenal Volcano is located in the north-central region of the country and is part of 16 reserves protected by the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy known as the Arenal Conservation Area. Specifically located in the 29,692-acre (12,016-ha) Arenal Volcano National Park, the Arenal Volcano is a relatively young volcano reaching 5,358 ft (1,633 meters) high that anchors great geologic wealth and complex biological evolution and development.  At the volcano’s base lies Lake Arenal, which contributes over 12% of the country’s hydroelectric energy.
  • The Costa Rican People: Perhaps the greatest attraction to Costa Rica is its people! Ticos, as they refer to themselves, are known as among the friendliest people on the planet, and they contribute to making Costa Rica one the happiest places on Earth.  Ticos (technically, ticos are male and ticas, are female, but they are referenced collectively as Ticos) are the native Costa Rican people who emerged from European, South Caribbean and South American influences. 

This is only the beginning of the Costa Rican experience. Nestled perfectly between North and South America and bordered by the Caribbean Sea to East and the Pacific Ocean to the west with 763 miles of coastline, Costa Rica holds a magical connection to the ecological soul of our planet, Earth!

Welcome from Costa Rica!

Costa Rica forest side (Wikimedia CC 2_0 by Åsa Berndtsson)

Costa Rica accounts for only 0.01 percent of Earth’s surface (0.03% of Earth’s total land surface), yet it contains about 5.7% of the world’s biodiversity. Known for its spectacular ecological richness and splendor, extraordinary culture, and commitment to sustainability and conservation, Costa Rica is considered to be one of the top 20 countries with the greatest biodiversity.  Many species are found nowhere else in the world.  

Costa Rica’s natural ecological prosperity is due in part to its geographic location; it is perfectly nestled in the tropics between South America and North America, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.   

This richly biologically diverse country is home to nearly 5.2 million people, the world’s 122nd most populous nation, occupying the world’s 126th largest area of land – including water surface – of nearly 51,100 square kilometers or about 19,729 square miles.  

A global trailblazer in utilizing renewable energy, Costa Rica provides virtually all of its electricity from sustainable sources, predominantly hydropower.  And, despite its reliance on fossil fuels for automobiles and other non-electricity needs, Costa Rica became the world’s eighth country to permanently ban fossil fuel exploration and extraction in 2021.

Living in and visiting Costa Rica means being embraced by a culture committed to zero carbon emissions and full environmental and economic sustainability by 2050.  And this country is well on its way amidst its splendor, ecological objectives and continuing challenges. 

This platform embraces the heartbeat of Costa Rica where its people and visitors collaborate with the environment for a sustainable future.   This is the beginning of Costa Rica’s cultural hub on Ecology Prime™.  This is Costa Rica….

Official and National Language: Spanish 

  • Specific Variety: Costa Rican Spanish.
  • English is widely spoken.

Unique Costa Rica Facts: Did You Know…?

Jaco Beach, Costa Rica (Wikimedia CC 3_0 by Costaricapro)
  • Costa Rica literally means, “rich coast,” the description used by Christopher Columbus when he sailed to the country’s eastern shore in 1502, his last voyage.  He called it this because of the vast amount of gold he observed being worn by its populace.
  • 28% of Costa Rica has been set aside as protected areas, including 26 safeguarded forests, 20 national parks, 9 forest reserves, 8 wildlife refuges and 7 wildlife sanctuaries.
  • The climate in Costa Rica is hot all year round in the plains and along the coasts, while the climate is milder in the higher elevations, sometimes called the tierras templadas (temperate lands), a common reference throughout tropical Latin America.
  • Temperature variations are low because the country is located near the Equator, so the main difference between the seasons is found in the rains. Much of the country is so rainy that it is covered with rainforests.
  • Roughly, 98% of the country’s electricity has come from renewable sources since 2014, essentially providing its total population with electric power.
  • Despite the nearly 100% renewable electricity production, around 70% of the country’s overall energy still comes from oil and gas, which is widely used for transport, industry, and other human activities like cooking.
  • In most of Costa Rica, the tap water is potable, something that sets it apart from the rest of Latin America.
  • In 1998, Costa Rica enacted its stalwart biodiversity law, Ley de Conservación de la Fauna Silvestre (The Law of Conservation of Wildlife), which provides strong legal enforcement and protection for the country’s biodiversity.  In fact, Costa Rica has more than 30 laws related to conservation and the environment! 
  • In 2013, Costa Rica was recognized for the disarmament of its army which enabled greater investment in environment, education and health services.  This led to “one of the highest standards of living in the region and the happiest people!” — (FuturePolicy.org)
  • Costa Rica joined the Climate & Clean Air Coalition in 2017 to promote alternatives to hydrofluorocarbon-producing technologies and to reduce pollutants from motor vehicles and municipal solid wastes.
  • Costa Rica has become a world leader in reaching carbon neutrality.  Since 2014, Costa Rica has produced 98% of its electricity from renewable sources, including water, wind, geothermal, biomass and solar.
  • In 2018, a study by University of Costa Rica reported that 70% of the water discharged from Costa Rica’s five wastewater treatment plants were not treated correctly. In 2020, Costa Rica passed a law guaranteeing access to safe, fresh water for all its citizens and visitors as “an essential and inalienable natural resource for humanity.”

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Population

Total Population: 5,179,230 (2022 – United Nations Population Fund-Costa Rica)

Surface Area

Total Surface Area: 51,100 km2 / 19,729.8 mi2 (WordData.info-Costa Rica & Nations Online)

  • World Rank: #7
  • 91% Land Surface Area:  2,991,406 km2 (1,154,990 mi2) – 2.4% of the world’s total land area.
  • 9% Water Surface Area: 295,853 km2 (114,230 mi2) – 0.82% of the world’s water surface.

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Temperature

Average Annual Temperature (2023)*: 23.9°C (80.4°F) 

*Averages are from 22 cities and districts, including the La Selva Biological Station, across three regions: North-Central Costa Rica, Western Costa Rica and Central-Eastern Costa Rica. 

Water

Total Water Volume:  113 billion cubic meters (bcm) – or about 29.85 trillion gallons. 

  • Total water volume includes surface water (75.7 bcm or 20.0 trillion gallons) and ground water (37.3 bcm or 9.85 trillion gallons).
  • Annual Precipitation (average baseline): 2,926 mm (115.2 inches).
  • Potable or rechargeable water supply per person (current): 22,603 m3 (5.97 million gallons).
  • Almost the entire population of Costa Rica (98% according to United Nations-Costa Rica) has access to potable water.  But effective treatment of this water has historically been problematic leading to Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, in 2020, signing a law guaranteeing access to safe drinking water as a constitutional right.

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Costa Rica: Water

Total Water Volume:  113 billion cubic meters (bcm) – or about 29.85 trillion gallons.  Almost the entire population of Costa Rica (98% according to United Nations-Costa Rica) has access to potable water.  But effective treatment of this water has historically been problematic leading to Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, in 2020, signing a law guaranteeing…
Read More Costa Rica: Water

Energy

Global ranking in energy consumption (as of 2020): #100.

  • Percentage of Total Global Energy Consumption: .04%
  • Energy Sources (% of total):  Fossil Fuels (18%), Renewables – water, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar (82%, 64% from hydropower alone). 
  • Renewables provide almost all of Costa Rica’s electricity needs.

Air Quality

Air Quality Index – AQI (Average for 2021): 31 – Good

For current Air Quality of Costa Rica click here.

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Costa Rica: Air

Air Quality Index – AQI (Average for 2021): 31 – Good Leading pollutants and sources: fine particulate matter from volcanic ash (Turrialba Volcano), automobile exhaust and construction, especially in Costa Rica’s Greater Metropolitan Area – San José and portions of Alajuela, Cartago and Heredia provinces.  (Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos | National Statistics and…
Read More Costa Rica: Air

Flora

11,840 identified species – about 3% of the world’s nearly 400,000 plant species.

(About an additional 2,130 species remain unclassified, per scientists’ estimates.)

  • 11,840 identified species – about 3% of the world’s nearly 400,000 plant species.
    (About an additional 2,130 species remain unclassified, per scientists’ estimates.)
    • 9,000 flowering plants. 
    • 2,040 tree species (including 130 that are threatened)
    • 800 fern species.
    • About 275 plants are threatened or endangered, about 2.3% of all plants in Costa Rica. (IUCN-2021 via Statista)
  • 3,812 total species are threatened – with 8.6% of those classified as critically endangered or vulnerable. (IUCN, as published in The Costa Rica News
  • Over 18% of Costa Rica’s estimated 500,000-plus flora and fauna species are unidentified per scientists’ estimates.

Fauna

400,034 identified species – about 4.5% of the world’s ~8.7 million estimated animal species.

  • 400,034 identified species – about 4.5% of the world’s ~8.7 million estimated animal species.
    (About an additional 80,000 species remain unclassified, per scientists’ estimates.)
    • 300,000 insect species
    • 1,800 arachnid species
    • 96,000 marine/salt water and freshwater fish species (95,000* marine species)
      (* Special statistic from Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad via The Costa Rica News)
    • 894 bird species (including migratory birds)
    • 500 mollusk species
    • 280 reptile species (85% are frogs)
    • 250 mammal species
    • 200 amphibian species
    • 110 crustacean species
  • About 3,540 fauna wildlife are threatened or endangered. (IUCN)

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Costa Rica: Flora

Total Number of Known Living Species: Over 500,000 Flora and Fauna (Numbers are approximate due to various reporting methods by varied qualified organizations.) Fast Fact: Costa Rica leads the world in biodiversity per square kilometer/mile per scientists’ estimates; over 18% of Costa Rica’s total estimated species are unclassified.
Read More Costa Rica: Flora